For years now, we’ve known that Facebook, more than any other social media platform, has allowed hatred and hate speech to gain momentum and flourish. Facebook has also allowed political agents, data mining and foreign entities to push propaganda and bonkers conspiracies for years. Facebook isn’t alone, of course – there are plenty of Birthers, Mask Truthers, Nazis and Russian agents on Twitter and other platforms too. But unlike other platforms, Mark Zuckerberg has done nothing about it. He’s actually done worse than nothing – he’s argued against setting any kind of moderator or check on the propaganda agents flourishing on Facebook.
All of which is why the Stop Hate For Profit campaign has sprung up – the campaign has petitioned companies and corporations to stop or pause advertising on Facebook for a month or longer. The campaign is being promoted by Color of Change, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League. Verizon, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Procter & Gamble have already signed on to the campaign and have announced that they’re withdrawing their ad buys for July. Facebook’s stock is down and Zuckerberg has lost a lot on paper. The campaign is getting a lot of heat and attention. And now this: Axios was the first to report that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been “privately advocating” for the campaign. Omid Scobie at Harper’s Bazaar confirmed the news. Some highlights:
A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex confirms to BAZAAR.com that Harry and Meghan are backing the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, which is calling for a global boycott of Facebook advertising over the company’s repeated failure to address hateful and racist content as well as misinformation on the platform. The Sussexes are throwing their weight behind the movement and have been working to encourage CEOs to stand in solidarity with the coalition of U.S. civil rights groups behind it.
“As we’ve been developing Archewell, one of the areas The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been keen to address is online hate speech, and we’ve been working with civil rights and racial justice groups on it,” a source close to the couple tells BAZAAR.com. “Over the past few weeks, in particular, this issue has become even more vital and they have been working to encourage global CEOs to stand in solidarity with a coalition of civil and racial justice groups like the NAACP, Color of Change, and the Anti-Defamation League, which are calling for structural changes to our online world.”
A source working closely with the pair adds, “For a long time, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been working on how to move the tech industry in a more humane direction–this includes their longstanding advocacy for supporting mental health in the social media era, which was a key focus of a visit they convened at Stanford University back in February, and is also fundamentally connected to what they are building into their new organization Archewell…. A common thread in these conversations was about how online platforms have created the conditions for hatred, bigotry, radicalism, and violence to grow and spread.”
A Sussex source says that the couple believe “there is an urgent and pressing need to remodel the framework of our online public spaces in a way that is defined more by compassion than hate; by truth instead of misinformation; by equity and inclusiveness instead of injustice and fear-mongering; free, not weaponized, speech. [They] have been working behind the scenes to urge global CEOs to stand in solidarity with civil rights and racial justice leaders. They’ve spoken with CEOs across the product spectrum; tech and media, consumer goods, food and beverage, apparel, and others.”
While an official launch for Archewell isn’t likely to happen until 2021, this issue will be one of several at the heart of the Sussexes’ non-profit. “This,” adds the source, “is their organization is motion; they are committed to dealing with the here and now, the right now, and the long-term.”
Once again, I sort of wish the Sussexes did have some kind of social media account right now so they could explain it themselves, but I get it. Why do an Instagram post about it when A) Facebook owns Instagram and B) they can just call up Omid Scobie and get their story out. And I guess they spoke to Axios too. Which is interesting! I mean, it’s worth noting that the Sussexes are NOT a business and they’re not advertising on any platform. I would be curious to know how exactly they’re supporting the campaign other than “morally” and “verbally.” Are they actually calling up CEOs? I’d really like to know!
Photos courtesy of WENN.